So what should you consider?
Most EV drivers know that winter weather can knock your range down significantly. We recently released a study showing the effects of cold weather using data from 7,000 EVs during the winter. We found that in freezing conditions, EVs could lose up to 35% of their advertised range. Depending on the weather near the mountain, we recommend budgeting in a significant range buffer to ensure you’re accommodating the effect of cold weather on your EV.
It’s crucial to remember to precondition your car before heading out for the day. Preconditioning allows you to heat your vehicle cabin and battery while it is plugged into the charger and before you leave for your trip. This lets you head out with full charge and an already warm car. Since heating a cold car takes a lot more energy than keeping a warm one toasty, this will help maintain efficiency while driving. You can also review the HVAC system on your EV. If you have a resistance heater or are driving in conditions below 20°F, consider putting on another layer before turning up the heat, especially if you are unsure of the next charging opportunity.
Best for Winter Range
Jaguar’s I-Pace SUV is the first battery-electric vehicle from Jaguar. Thanks to an adjustable suspension, the I-Pace touts its 7.8-inches of ground clearance. The I-Pace is AWD, comes with a dual-motor, and handles well. It’s a high-end pick with head pumps to help preserve range even while the heat is blasting. Our winter range testing showed only a 3% decrease in 30 degree temps, but this data is still pending real-world verification.
High speeds are never ideal for the efficiency and range of electric cars. However, in winter driving tests with 21” wheels, the BMW iX returned an impressive 304 miles at 55 mph and 227 miles at 75 mph. BMW achieved this high range through an increase in battery capacity to 111.5 kWh and efficiency improvements. Recurrent has not yet included the iX for our own winter range testing since it is a newer model.
At a more accessible price point, the Volkswagen ID4 has an EPA rated range between 208 and 275 miles. It is equipped with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel that help offset the need for its resistive cabin heater. Even though it is not fitted with a heat pump, the heater is part of the Climatronic automatic climate control system, which is designed to get to temperature faster than the traditional heaters from gas-powered vehicles waiting for the engines to warm up. Note that the ID.4 did see notable range loss of around 30% in our winter range testing, so it might be best for shorter drives.
When going on any trip, no matter the weather, it’s important to plan out your route with chargers along the way (and back-up routes just in case!). This is especially important on a ski trip when you’re driving in mountainous regions that may be lacking phone service or far from populated towns. And, when your range is already shortened due to the cold weather, it’s invaluable to know that you have a robust charging network to support your journey.
Best Charging Network
Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y EPA range is between 240 - 330 miles. It was the first Tesla to come standard with the advanced octovalve HVAC system, cutting down on range loss from heater use. But, more than that, it comes with the robust Tesla supercharger network. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Tesla has over 1,600 Supercharger stations in the U.S., with over 17,000 fast-charging ports, far more than any other brand. The Tesla Model Y is able to use Level 2 and Level 3 chargers from any network with a charge converter, as well as from any of Tesla’s Supercharger network. Factor in the crossover body style, and you’ve got Recurrent’s 2023 winter road trip pick.
The Rivian R1S has an EPA estimated range between 316 to 321 miles and all the space you could want for your gear. Rivian is expanding fast to stretch its network of chargers across the U.S. The Rivian Adventure Network is a comprehensive network of fast-charging sites — initially capable of adding up to 140 miles of range in 20 minutes to the R1S. The Rivian Adventure Network is planned to grow to more than 3,500 fast chargers at over 600 sites across the US and Canada, and will only be available exclusively to Rivian owners. Rivian is also installing over 10,000 Level 2 chargers across the U.S. and Canada.
Driving and charging an electric vehicle in colder weather has its nuances because temperatures below 40°F can reduce charging power, particularly while the battery is still cold. If you’re staying a bit away from the slopes, you’ll definitely want to plan your charge times so you’re not waiting too long to get back on the road (in the cold, mind you). In-app preconditioning is a must-have for these situations, so you can let your car know you’re planning to leave and have it warm up the battery prior to charging.
Best EVs for Charging Speed
Hyundai Ioniq 5
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 gets an EPA range of 220 - 303 miles, which is pretty close to standard. Where it stands out is in its charging speeds: it is one of the fastest charging electric vehicles on the market today, boasting an 800-volt charging capability. The Ioniq 5 can go from 10 to 80% state of charge in 18 minutes when connected to a 350 kW DC fast charger, though you may struggle to find a DC charger with 350-volts in the mountains. Even with a 50 kW DC charger, charging time for the Ioniq 5 is 43 mins to go from 10 to 80% charged.
The Kia EV6 came out along since the Ioniq 5 because it was built on the same platform with the same manufacturer. It gets 206 - 310 miles, as per the EPA. Like the Ioniq 5, the EV6 uses an advanced (and expensive) 800-volt architecture that charges twice as fast as its competitors. The Kia EV6 also boasts ability to charge from 10 to 80 percent in just 18 minutes, which is astonishingly fast compared to the times of comparables like the Mach-E (around 45 minutes) and the VW ID.4 (35 mins).
Many of the pricier options on this list also have above-average fast charge speeds.
Ski boots, snow pants, helmets – bringing a lot of gear? You’ll be sure to want a roomy cargo when loading up for a ski trip.
Best EVs for a Spacious Interior
The Ford Mustang Mach-E is a great electric SUV with 59.7 cubic feet of total space behind the front seats, as well as a 4.8 cubic-foot trunk. With the rear seats up, interior cargo volume is still 29.7 cubic feet. This is enough space for stowing luggage and even bulkier items like a bike. Depending on year and trim, the EPA rates its range between 240 and 314 miles. However, expect it to lose around 30% of that range when the temperatures fall to freezing.
The Kona Electric is rated at 258 miles by the EPA - 81% of which you can expect it to keep in the cold. It delivers 19.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. With the rear seats folded, that number jumps up to 45.8 cubic feet. Its compact dimensions make for an easy drive around town, and it is surprisingly roomy thanks to its high-riding and boxy-body style. You can drop the 60:40 split-folding rear bench in the Kona Electric for extra cargo space.
PS – check out these ten EV-friendly ski resorts for an ultra-convenient experience, and read our road-trip recommendations to make a longer journey pleasant and stress-free.
Written by Carolyn Kossow (she/her), a gender, queer, and racial justice activist who is dedicated to a life and career advocating for social justice. Carolyn has enjoyed the flexibility and diversity of being able to support the work of several mission-driven organizations: nonprofits, start-ups, small business, and global companies alike.